What is Total Art?
Surely this term is out there, people have already come up with so much stuff, but for our purposes now, know that I am making this up!
Total Art is the idea of looking at all of life and existence through the proverbial Lens of Art.
And what is Art, anyway? For the sake of this conversation, let’s let ourselves say that Art is truly and simply a Way. A way of looking, a way to be seen, a way thinking, perspective, on object or thing.
So, what makes something a piece of Art? Is it the fact of isolating an item and placing it in the Gallery?
Now, our notions of Words continue to change. That’s the nature of language, it’s rather a Verb. That meaning embeds over time and context. We call it History, Culture, Experience or Memory.
In Art History, we think of the progression of primitive cave paintings to the Renaissance. We think of the galleries of Chelsea, New York. We think of Land Art, Conceptualism and now, at this moment in time, what you might call “Post Post Post”. The Gallery with no walls, the Human without gender, the Performance with no audience, the Writer with no thought.
I have always been a fan of Relational Aesthetics.
This is the concept that the Art is not activated until the Audience is present.
Started in 1994 by Rikrit Taravanji, Relational Aesthetics appeared as the artist making Pad Thai in the gallery space, the artwork only to be complete when the Audience showed up to eat.
The Experience was part of the Art. The Viewer became essential. A part of a Living Work.
And I always thought that was very fun. It felt, to me, to bring a sort of Magic to every day life.
Because no matter how much you might even love Art, everyone must admit, that while a day spent wandering the museum halls can be lovely, it can also be easily boring.
So what is the bridge to that Ephemeral Enchantment? The feeling of something hard to articulate that’s going on inside of there? An Art Experience?
Well it’s the Mind, I tell you!
It’s the Mind.
It’s Your Mind
And It has to take You There.
Beyond the helpful aspects of a well-lit space and well-positioned affects that help you find your way (which is altogether Controversial for the Artist’s Sake, as you walk the possibly tenuous line (if You get caught up in that Space) between social experiment and didactic take - how much do you Explain? So much is at Stake...). Is Art to be confined to a group of Institutional Persons, an Established Canon, an Agreed Upon Space (the Privately Owned Gallery, the Four Walls of the Museum, the Publicly Funded Sculpture Garden, the School of Art)? What about Art For Art’s Sake?
So let’s step past all of the Rules and Regulations we put in Our Own Way, and simply don the lens of Total Art, In Every Way.
This means simply to IMAGINE and THINK, to see EVERYTHING unfolding before you as a CREATIVE SCENE. Some things candid, spontaneous, derived.
Some things intentional, designed and contrived. (See, we’ve struck the Controversy, again, that the “Artist”, through their decisions, is in fact, making “Designs”.)
Much of this Rhetoric, (and that is The Point!) takes only the Meaning that we have Enjoined.
So in this dialogue about Total Art (and we DO want a dialogue, please share your thoughts!), we want to simplify this artsy talk and suggest the idea that sometimes in life, you might want you put your Art Glasses on, brush you Art Hair and wear your Art Cap, feel with your Art Body and love with your Art Heart.
Life always holds beauty, even the hard parts. Sometimes, for fun, for intellectual curiosity, for mastering the art of your perspective, you might enjoy it, too, if you simply see it as A GREAT WORK OF ART.